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I left NNPC to serve less privilege in Kano, says Inuwa Waya

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
15 January 2022   |   2:42 am
Inuwa Waya is a British trained oil and gas expert as well as a consultant in International Energy Management. Waya had contributed to the transformation and growth of the Nigerian oil

Inuwa Waya

Inuwa Waya is a British trained oil and gas expert as well as a consultant in International Energy Management. Waya had contributed to the transformation and growth of the Nigerian oil and gas sector in his 32 years of meritorious service at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He was the immediate past Managing Director, NNPC Shipping and Coordinator, Optimisation Project at the corporation.

The Kano-born legal practitioner, voluntarily retired from NNPC in September 2021, two years ahead of his statutory retirement to join the 2023 gubernatorial race in Kano.

He spoke with Murtala Adewale, on his experiences at NNPC, developmental agenda and passion to serve the interest of the less privileged in Kano.

Why did you decide to resign your job from the NNPC to join the race to 2023 Governorship in Kano?
I have been inundated with questions and queries as to why I decided to voluntarily retire from my very important and prestigious position in NNPC to join partisan politics and to chase some people’s opinions on what they thought might be an impossible journey. But I know why I decided to quit even though I know it is not easy, especially having reached the climax of my career.

I have been in NNPC since August 26, 1991. Before then, I was a state counsel at the Kano State Ministry of Justice. From August 26, 1991, to date, it will give you 32 years that I have been in NNPC and I can tell you that the corporation is the most credible and transparency government agency you can ever think of and a place anyone would rather want to continue to stay till the last day of his retirement.

NNPC was formed in 1977 by military decree and since then they have been operating downstream midstream, and off-stream sectors of the oil and gas industry. Being a place of transparency and accountability, NNPC is the only surviving agency among other corporations established almost at the same time. You can think of National Electricity Commission, National Electrical Power Authority, Nigerian Airways, Nigerian Postal Services and Nigerian Railway Corporation.

All these entities except the Railway Service that until recently was resuscitated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, are now history. But NNPC is still there and waxing stronger and with the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, the corporation has assumed a new dimension in terms of more accountability, more profitability, and responsibility to justify shareholders resources and who are the shareholders, the government, and people of Nigeria.

So when I realised I have been part and parcel of all this progress, it is only fair to ask why you are leaving the corporation this time. But like I said I am happy that I left the NNPC in an excellent position. President Muhammadu Buhari has done extremely well to reposition not only the NNPC but the entire oil and gas sector. And NNPC being the driving force, has set the center stage for this reposition.

Again, I realise there are times for individuals to come and time to leave the stage for the younger generation. With all these reforms already taking place which is designed to increase the commerciality of NNPC, (remember NNPC is no longer a corporation it is now a limited liability company), so you need to realise as senior and management staff, that these changes will usher a rebirth of the corporation and for us who have been there for long, it is time to step aside and allow the younger generation to take the mantle of leadership and deliver it to the promised land.

That is the sacrifice I have made and I know it is not easy but we just have to do that if we want the corporation to stand and to compete with other notable oil and gas limited companies in the world. NNPC need to operate at an international level and we need young, talented, agile and viable staff to carry the company to the international level. In my view, we need to understand that society and what we do is changing and that we must come to speed with the dynamism of global development.

With your vast experience having headed so many directorates of the NNPC in Nigeria and abroad, don’t you think the corporation need your service to sustain the new reforms?
I have held several positions in NNPC up to my retirement, but I am 58 today and at that age, I still have up to 2 years to my statutory retirement from the service. Yet we need to understand that when an organisation is going through a transformation agenda, you expect people that will eventually take over to have more time in the service to understand the system. So two years is not enough to make any significant impact, therefore it is necessary to get the junior staff that will have at least 10 years ahead to master the system and make necessary institutional changes.

It is on that account I decided to leave to allow the young talent to take over. I started my career as a legal officer in the research unit of the NNPC. Later I moved to the litigation and property law division of the corporation and then to the commercial and corporate legal division. I was appointed technical adviser to the head of the legal division at the NNPC.

I returned to the corporate headquarters as technical assistance to the Group Managing Director of NNPC in 2011. In 2013, I was appointed General Manager, Tenders Committee at NNPC headquarters as well as head, NNPC legal division. Suffice to say that I worked with five GMD’s at close range.

What kind of leadership quality do you think Kano required this time and what will you do differently if voted to power?
First, we have to understand that we are elites and most of our lifetime achievements are limited to what we achieved during our services in mainstream civil or public services. And when they finish they come back home to help their communities because, in the course of their service, they have been introduced to several aspects of developments across the globe with interaction with the high and mighty in the world. So when the elite return some of them will start lamenting about what is happening in the country and become armchair critics because at that time they felt it was too late for them to join the league of politicians who are ready to harass and intimidate them since they are not in the mainstream.

Politicians see people like us as endangered species as far as they are concerned. They believed you have all that it takes to develop society then they begin to block you, using legal, illegal, and supernatural means. But one should not be a coward or intimidated to retract from the step being taken. You have to be brave enough to break the ranks and join the system to contribute and make a meaningful impact in the larger society.

That is why people like us have decided to pick up the challenge and sacrifice to debacle into politics. The two years that I have left in service to retire from NNPC is now enabling me the opportunity to understand the nitty-gritty of the political process and I imagine what would have happened if I were to wait until one month before retirement as provided by the electoral act, perhaps I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

The mere fact that people like us are joining politics is already unseating the political class. It is making them sit up and do what is right. That is a big plus for me knowing full well that my involvement has gingered the political class to begin to think of probity and accountability. Now, on what I would do differently, already I am a member of APC, so I believe in the party’s manifesto.

And what I will do is to align myself with the party’s manifestos, for now, I believe in it. I believe in what the president is doing by carrying out the objectives of the party and that is why the president usually challenges his critics to show where he has violated the constitution. Buhari is my hero and I see him as a role model and he was the major reason why I join politics.

The intent to join the political class was because of President Muhammadu Buhari. I support what the Federal and Kano state governments are doing as APC governments. What I’m going to do differently depends on whether or not APC changes her manifestos but for now, I fully support what the APC government is doing in Kano and at the federal level.

Can you state clearly your developmental agenda for Kano if you become governor in 2023?
My concern is education because I realised that we could not develop. After all, we don’t have quality and functional education. I realised that our major challenge began from lack of education and that is why I commend the policy of free education being implemented by the Kano State government. The policy of free and compulsory education is commendable and we need to support it. But the challenge the state will face is resources to sustain the system because schools will no longer charge any fee and that means the government will need to find alternative means to sustain the system.

For me, I have decided to assist the government on the policy on free education with the provision of instructional materials, uniforms, and the like especially to children of the less privileged. I do this in public schools in the state. We introduced debate and competition in the schools to encourage scholarship and we give out gifts to best-performing students.

Again, we have an issue of drug abuse in Kano which is also largely due to a lack of education. This unfortunate act has led to school dropout and resulted in insurgency and terrorism. If I become governor I will build more schools, rehabilitate existing structures and ensure that teachers are not only well paid but qualified enough to provide the services they are employed to do.

There is no time for criticism because I don’t want to be an armchair critic, the very reason I joined the race in the first place. I understand when one is in power you understand the situation well and you hope it will be better but when you leave the government you begin to criticize. Every government wants constructive and not destructive criticism.

There is division in APC in Kano, how would you circumvent the situation, and given the complexity of Kano Politics why do you choose to contest the highest political post in Kano and not the most achievable post?
To start with, I’m not a novice in politics. I remember when we were in secondary school in Rumfa College we used to visit Mallam Aminu Kano to see and learn how he addressed his political disciples. I cultivated the habit and that created an impact in my mind that one day in the future I will take full part in politics.

When I graduated from college, I began several movements in politics and it was because of my involvement in politics that attracted the interest of the then governor of Kano late Abubakar Rimi to employ some of us to work in the research unit at the government house, set up by the late Dr. Bala Muhammad. Our responsibility then includes administering questionnaires to the public to sample public opinion about government policies and activities whether or not the public is satisfied.

I did that for a few months before I move to the school of preliminary studies preparatory to my university education. When I was there, I was a students representative, later the speaker of the assembly, and then became president of the students’ union.

Similarly, when I was at Ahmadu Bello University, I was the president of the Society of Law students for a while, Secretary-general Kano state students union, member of the progressives union. So with all these participations over the years, I don’t think you can refer to me as a new bee because I went to serve 32 years in NNPC. And the kind of challenges I went through in NNPC especially in the hands of the politicians and how I survived it before my retirement that will tell you how resilient I am.

I was harassed, intimidated and all sorts of threats to frustrate me out of the system because that is their stock in trade. They want good people out of the system. I have had advice from people who rather asked me to return to university because politics is a dangerous game. They simply don’t want you to join them and to hold them accountable. I have been abused on media and even plot against me with a dangerous petition setting me against my employer alleging that I’m in public service but sponsoring political activities in Kano.

Unfortunately, they have forgotten that I am a lawyer and I’m doing that in consonance with the provision of section 40 of the Constitution that allows every individual to pursue his or her interest and to participate in trade unions and political parties for the protection of their interest. And this section was consolidated by the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Chief Gani Faweyinmi, Chief Balarabe Musa, Alh. Kala Gazali against INEC and Attorney General of the federation.

Justice Uwais CJN as he then was, declared in clear terms that it is obvious that the public service rules prevented civil servants in partisan politics but those civil service pros and procedures can never be accepted to be inconsistent with the position of the Constitution and if you check these civil service rules are directly in conflict with the provisions of the constitution. That was the reason the Supreme Court, according to Justice Uwais decided that the civil service rules were null and void because of the inconsistency with the Constitution.

I had a legal opinion while on service and for my management to understand the situation even before my retirement. And what the Constitution did was to reinforce the political jurisprudence of man as a political animal. We know some people believed the political activities of a state are the exclusive right and they have to determine who plays the game forgotten that parties are simple an amalgamation of interested persons coming together to form an entity. So I’m not a novice, I know legal rights, and the reason why I’m joining the race is to protect the interests of the poor and I will not fall into any intimidation or harassment by any politician.

With Crisis in Kano APC, people may want to know where you belong?
The crisis in APC is normal because everyone gets more interested and you begin to see raise in alignment and re-alignment. I’m also in alignment with some groups and as far as I’m concerned APC in Kano is one. As far as I’m concerned Abdullahi Abbas is still the chairman and the current executive of the party is the recognized leader of the party. Where you have splitter groups that want to bring about conflict because of the protection of their selfish interest then you know it is about who gets what where and time.

So in politics, you use a hammer to kill a mosquito sometimes. For me, I’m in politics to sanitise the system to make the system more accountable and more reliable. We would continue to campaign against violence using children of the poor who the politicians have denied education to foment a crisis, using daggers and machetes. I have told the youths and challenged them to tell any politician who asks them to take drugs and carry dangerous weapons against their opponents to bring their children to lead the fight.

By the time you begin to ask the political class to bring their children to campaign and cross opponents, you will notice that in no distance time violence would be eliminated in our political space. No politician would allow his child to participate in violence but they can use children of the poor who they failed to offer education. You don’t need to kill any opponent to win if you are worth what you claim to be. We should allow people to determine the right candidates.